Sweet Jamesie has been unhappy the last few days. The constant presence of drool and hands in his mouth are telltale signs that teething has begun. Even at his absolute crankiest, he’s still the most pleasant baby. When he cries, he gets a look on his face as if to say, “I’m terribly sorry to cry, Mother, but things are hurting and I’m confused. Perhaps you could tend to me?” James is very formal.

Annabel cannot stand when James cries. Not really because she’s so concerned that he’s unhappy, but because she thinks he is painfully loud. It’s ironic because he isn’t, at all, while everything Annabel does is at maximum volume. In fact, as I write this she is talking in her sleep. When James cries, Annie yells, “Mommy, Jamesie is crying!!” and slams her hands over her ears. As you can imagine, it’s tremendously helpful.

A few days ago I was rocking a whimpering James in his room when Annie walked in with her hands clamped over her ears. “MOM,” she shouted, “I BROUGHT SOMETHING TO MAKE JAMES FEEL BETTER.”

She held out her hand, and on it was a toy pacifier meant for one of her dolls.

the ring of sadness

“Oh honey, this is so sweet but it’s not a real pacifier so he can’t use…”

No, Mama! This is a special ring. It’s a ring of sadness. If you wear it and wave it around in front of Jamesie, he won’t be sad anymore!”

While Annie was talking, James settled down, looked at Annie, and grinned. “Look Mama, the ring of sadness works!”

According to Annie, the ring of sadness must:

~be worn like a ring, on your finger
~be worn on your finger at all times
~be waved around dangerously close to the face of the person who is sad

Now every single time James is crying Annie will shout, “MOM! GET THE RING OF SADNESS!” Even if it’s the middle of the night. Even if we are out in public. Even if we are in the library. Especially if we are in the library.


Annie is convinced the Ring of Sadness works because it’s magical. I know it works because no matter how much his mouth hurts, James absolutely adores his sister and is always happy when she’s around. I’m no dummy – as long as Annie wants to help make James feel better, I’m completely in favor of it. If only there were a “ring of migraines” or a “ring of creaky joints” for her to use on me.